Tag:Robert Sands
Posted on: March 24, 2011 6:23 pm
 

Video -- Risers/Fallers and a look at the DL

My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I each get the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Shehadi each week as we prepare loyal CBS readers and viewers of the upcoming NFL Draft.

Chad discussed this week's Risers and Fallers, highlighting a receiver from the WAC who I'm quite high on. Among other things, Chad also explains why West Virginia safety Robert Sands left scouts a bit disappointed during his recent Pro Day workout.

Lauren and I spoke about several of the top defensive linemen in the draft. We began the conversation breaking down the differences between Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley and also why I (and more importantly scouts) were nervous about Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers before concerns about his knee.

Lauren is always kind enough to ask a question about some lower level prospects that I don't think are getting enough national attention. I mention three players (all defensive tackles) this week -- one of whom I fully expect to make the first round. The other two, however, are players that few college fans have had an opportunity to watch, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see wind up as Top 100 selections.
Posted on: March 1, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 7:19 pm
 

Peterson/Prince impress; others helped stock more

Count me among those that is not at all surprised by the fact that LSU's Patrick Peterson and Nebraska's Prince Amukamara silenced a few critics today with their blazing times in the 40-yard dash and strong performances in other defensive back drills.

I certainly wasn't alone in believing these players would perform well. I spoke to various members of NFL scouting departments, agents, prospects and media in the weeks preceding the Combine that expected these two players to do well.

By only confirming the athleticism many of us recognized on tape, Peterson and Amukamara won't be boosting their stock much. Each was already viewed by many as potential top ten prospects.

Here are a few other defensive backs who boosted their stock even more with strong Combine workouts Tuesday.

  • Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Ohio State: A severely dislocated wrist suffered in the Buckeyes' Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas kept Chekwa from performing all of the drills in Indianapolis, but he starred in most important one -- recording a 4.40 second showing in the 40-yard dash and reinforcing the belief that he's one of the nation's most underrated cornerbacks and a potential second round pick.
  • Robert Sands, S, West Virginia: Most are pegging UCLA's Rahim Moore as this year's top safety, but it was the size/speed freak Sands who enjoyed the more impressive Combine showing, Tuesday. The 6-4, 217 pound Sands surprised some with a solid time in the 40-yard dash (4.57) and standout performances, as well, in the leaps and shuttles. Don't be surprised if this Mountaineer winds up a top 75 pick.
  • Mark Legree, S, Appalachian State: Despite the fact that he was a three-time consensus All-American at Appalachian State with an eye-popping 22 career interceptions, Legree was only a late addition to the Combine. I've long been a fan of his instincts and ball-skills and love that he proved his athleticism against the so-called elite competition. I'm not going to say I expected him to turn in the second fastest time in the 40-yard dash of any safety at the Combine, but I have been very much of a fan of his for a while now... And can prove it. 
Surprised I didn't list Demarcus Van Dyke as a Riser following his Combine-best 4.28 time in the 40-yard dash? Don't be. Scouts certainly weren't, as "DVD" was a well-known speedster who demonstrated his speed recently when asked to play at the Senior Bowl.

Besides, aren't DVDs meant to burn?


Posted on: January 15, 2011 11:41 am
 

Poor decisions mar underclassmen deadline day

For NFL teams looking at a less than impressive senior class, January 15 has developed into a holiday of sorts. As the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft, teams are hopeful that a few more presents will pop up to enhance the crop they've already seen.

It has been a bountiful catch already. Each player selected in the top five will be underclassmen, with Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller rating as the only seniors likely to have a chance at the top ten.

But for every Da'Quan Bowers or A.J. Green physically ready to make the leap to the NFL, there are other underclassmen who should have remained in school.

As of this morning I've been told of 55 players making the leap. Some of them, quite frankly, are leaping off the cliff of undrafted free agency.

Some of the most troubling decisions were made by running backs and safeties. 

Consider that so far this year there have been 12 underclassmen running backs who have declared for the 2011 NFL Draft.

There were only 12 running backs drafted last year.

For players like Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones, Virginia Tech's Darren Evans, and Wisconsin's John Clay, the decision could turn out disastrous.

You can't get three backs more different than the 5-11, 190 pound speedster Jones, the 6-0, 220 pound Evans and the 6-1, 248 pound bruiser Clay. Yet all three have struggled with durability and will be entering the NFL without the offenses taylored around their game that helped each standout at the collegiate level.

Jones, who has struggled the most with injuries but is the most physically gifted of the three may be one taking the biggest gamble, especially considering that scouts are going to naturally question his FCS competition. Even if he'd returned for his senior season and helped Eastern and again struggled with durability, he'd have potentially had the opportunity to play in a senior all-star game.

The weak senior running back class (scouts aren't sure there will be a single senior drafted in the top two rounds) convinced many of these underclassmen to come out. The same is true at safety. At of this morning, "only" five safeties had declared early for the draft -- UCLA's Rahim Moore, West Virginia's Robert Sands, Iowa's Tyler Sash, Georgia Tech's Jerrard Terrant and Florida's Will Hill -- but two of them could be making significant mistakes.

Moore and Hill have made some eye-popping plays over their respective careers, but each is coming off a disappointing junior season and surprised scouts with their decisions to leave early. Perhaps surprised isn't the correct word. Scouts had known that each was strongly considering the jump for the last month or so, but it doesn't change the fact that each was more highly thought of at the end of last season -- had much to gain with a strong senior year -- than they did by coming out now.

Moore, in particular, has been labeled by many as a first round caliber prospect, but after doing my film review of him this past week, I see an unreliable open field tackler who is inconsistent in coverage. His FBS-leading 10 interceptions in 2009 may have been a by-product of the play of his former teammates, now NFL players (Bucs' DT Brian Price and Titans' CB Alterraun Verner). Without them, Moore intercepted one pass in 2010.  I gave him a 3rd-4th round grade.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 3:23 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2010 3:26 pm
 

Final games for juniors Gabbert, Smith, Sands?

With all due respect to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Troy beat Ohio) and the Advo Care V100 Independence Bowl (Air Force beat Georgia Tech), tonight begins the real bowl season -- at least when it comes to scouting future NFL prospects.

My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter did a fine job of pointing out which prospects you should be watching in tonight's games . I wanted to make special mention of the underclassmen who might be playing in their final collegiate games tonight, however.

In the "early" game pitting North Carolina State against West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl, the "battle" between Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson and Mountaineer free safety Robert Sands should be intriguing. Russell, 5-11 and 202 pounds, lacks the size scouts are looking for, but is a savvy and surprisingly accurate passer. Sands has spectacular size (6-4, 221), is a hard-hitter whose athleticism pops off the tape. He's allowed to freelance a great deal in WVU's 3-3-5 scheme, which could result in big plays one way or the other in this game. I listed this "one on one" matchup as one of the five I'm most looking forward to scouting in the entire bowl season.

Though statistics say that he won't be a huge component of the Wolfpack's offense, junior tight end George Bryan is another underclassman to key in on in this contest. The 6-5, 265 pounder has "only" caught 32 passes for 344 yards and three scores on the year, but NFL scouts are already paying very close attention to him due to the fact that he's considering leaving early for the NFL. It isn't just because his size and ability to compete as a receiver and blocker intrigue scouts, Bryan recognizes that in this year's weak senior class of tight ends, his stock may never be higher than it is right now.

The more intriguing young talent won't be on the field until the second game tonight, however. Considering the talent Iowa boasts among its seniors -- including first round cinch Adrian Clayborn (as well as Senior Bowl invites Ricky Stanzi and Christian Ballard) it might surprise you that scouts are actually more interested in the talent that will be playing this game with the Missouri "M" on their helmets during tonight's Insight Bowl.

The focus will, of course, be on quarterback Blaine Gabbert . Possessing an ideal combination of size (6-5, 235) and arm strength, Gabbert certainly looks the part of a first round pick and has the quick release and downfield accuracy scouts are looking for, as well. Among Gabbert's weapons is junior tight end Michael Egnew , himself a potential early entry candidate, who at 6-6, 235 pounds certainly has the size potential scouts are looking for and, unlike Bryan from the Wolfpack, does have the production. In fact, Egnew led all FBS tight ends with 83 receptions for 698 yards and four scores this year. 

Considering that Gabbert takes virtually all of his snaps out of the shotgun, he'll be better protected than most in dealing with Iowa's fearsome defensive line, but should they create pressure on him, it will be interesting to see how well Gabbert is able to move in and out of the pocket. At times, when his feet haven't been set, Gabbert's trademark accuracy has suffered. A strong game against Iowa, however, could springboard Gabbert into the draft.

I'm ever more curious to see how Missouri's pass rushing star Aldon Smith , only a redshirt sophomore, is able to get after Iowa's quarterback. Smith, who earned First Team All-Big 12 honors despite missing the first three games with a broken leg, is a dynamic playmaker (44 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks) who rates as one of the more intriguing rushers potentially available in 2011.

Under the tutelage of Kirk Ferentz, Iowa is as well coached along the offensive line as any team in the country. Like his teammate Gabbert, if Smith puts together an eye-popping performance, it may force him to strongly consider leaving school early.

If you'd like to scout "alongside me" during these and the other bowl games throughout the rest of the college football season, you can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.

Or, if you just want to follow the preeminent draft coverage available, simply click here for NFLDraftScout.com.

Posted on: December 25, 2010 1:19 pm
 

Holiday presents - best 5 Bowl 1 on 1 matchups

On this winter holiday for many, I thought I've provide my readers with my own gift, of sorts.

The following are the five individual matchups I'm most looking forward to scouting over the upcoming bowl games.

West Virginia FS Robert Sands vs. NC State QB Russell Wilson: The 6-4, 221 pound Sands is considering leaving WVU after this, his junior season. Sands is allowed to freelance a bit in the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 defense, but is a natural playmaker who can bring the thunder as a hitter. His instincts and coverage skills will be tested against Wilson. A strong game by Sands could push him into the 2011 draft, where he'd rate among the best free safeties in a weak class needing help from the juniors if there are to be many candidates worthy of a top 75 grade.  This game is scheduled for 6:30 pm EST on Tuesday, December 28th.

Washington WR Jermaine Kearse vs. Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara: Many will point to Husky quarterback Jake Locker as the player to watch in this contest and for good reason. His 4 of 20 performance in the team's first matchup in October is considered by some to be the game that sent his stock sliding this year. (Loyal readers know that is not necessarily the case.) The reality is, without sudden and massive improvement by Washington's offensive line, Nebraska's defense should again be too much to provide Locker a chance in this game. If the 6-2, 205 pound Kearse, however, is able to shake free early for some big plays against Amukamara, Locker and the Huskies have a chance. Locker relies on the junior as his favorite target. When Kearse has been shut down, so too (generally) has Locker -- making this one on one battle a key in the most anticipated rematch of the bowl season.  This game is scheduled for 10 pm EST on Thursday, December 30th.

Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd vs. Miami CB Brandon Harris: Both the 6-3, 228 pound Floyd and the 5-11, 195 pound Harris are expected to leave for the NFL following this game. Harris has the agility, speed and physicality to eliminate most receivers, but Floyd's significant size advantage makes this an intriguing test for the Canes' star. Though teams are often hesitant to move around their corners to match up all game long against wide receivers, eliminating the big play Floyd from Notre Dame's arsenal might be the easiest way of crippling Brian Kelly's offense. This game is scheduled for 2 pm EST on Friday, December 31st.

TCU OT Marcus Cannon vs. Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt: Last year it was the one on one matchup between Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan and Iowa left tackle Bryan Bulaga that in my mind was the elite battle of the bowl season. This year it is Cannon and Watt. Watt is moved all over the Badgers' defensive line and it is this versatility that has been maddening for opponents to protect against and left NFL scouts salivating at his versatility in the pros. Watt, however, will have his hands full when playing against the Horned Frogs' left tackle, a 6-5, 350 pound behemoth with shockingly quick feet. Bulaga shut down Morgan last year, cementing his place in the first round. I have Cannon firmly in the second round, at this point, but if he's able to slow down Watt, arguably the most dominant defensive lineman in the country, he'll skyrocket up draft boards. This game is scheduled for 5 pm EST on Saturday, January 1st.

Auburn QB Cam Newton vs. Oregon ILB Casey Matthews:
Opponents have tried to keep a "spy" in to protect against Cam Newton's running all game long. The strategy has largely failed despite the fact that defenses have often resorted to their most athletic linebackers or physical safeties to do the job. Matthews isn't a spectacular athlete or terribly physical, but he might be the most instinctive linebacker in the country and among the surer tacklers. This one on one battle could dictate how well Newton is able to move the Auburn offense with his legs -- which could wind up as the key to the BCS Championship. This game is scheduled for 8:30 pm EST on Monday, January 10th.


On behalf of the entire NFLDraftScout.com crew of analysts Chad Reuter and Chris Steuber, editors Derek Harper and Jeff Reynolds, website tech expert Brian Hitterman and publisher Frank Cooney I wish you and your loved ones a very safe, happy and (hopefully football-filled) holiday season.


As always for the very best in pro football draft coverage, check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com